Peter at Prowein
Flying out and back to Düsseldorf in a day probably doesn’t give the best moral high ground to deliver a talk on sustainability – but sometimes needs must, and it proved a most worthwhile trip and event.
I was hosting a tasting on the Beautiful South stage at Europe’s largest wine trade fair, Prowein, which is simply staggering in its scale and buzz.
My focus was on Chile. I made the point that sustainability isn’t just about the ‘three E’s’ (environment, economics, social equity). At a more basic level, it’s also about deliciousness: if you aren’t making unique, delicious wines with identity and integrity then, in the long-term, people won’t seek them out and you won’t have a wine industry, however many eco-friendly boxes it ticks.
One particular aspect of Chilean wine that I’m finding exciting at the moment is the way in which the country’s winemaking heritage is being revived to shape a brighter future. In doing so, it provides a brilliant model of sustainability in action.
Take what Miguel Torres is doing with its País project, or De Martino with its project in Guarilihue. That is, seeking out and working with small-scale wine growers in well sited terroirs in southern Chile with established (often very old) vineyards, dry-farmed with minimal intervention, on their own roots, often with varieties like Cinsault, Carignan, País and Muscat. Using the modern winemaking expertise of these forward-thinking wineries to make expressive, decent, unadorned (and fairly priced) wine, these growers can receive up to five times the market price for their grapes. That makes their business sustainable, ensures that Chile’s wine heritage is maintained and in the process gives Chile another dimension in its wine offering, for long criticised for being predictable and limited. It’s a brilliant virtuous circle, touching on all elements of the sustainable model: eco-friendly, socially equitable and economically viable. Not to mention delicious.
I’m hoping to get back out to Chile very soon to take a closer look at this phenomenon and report back. In the meantime, you can find my latest overview and insight into the Chilean wine scene in my Chile Wine Brief via this link. Below is a list of the wines I used at Prowein. Thanks to the wineries for their support, as well as Wines of Chile for having me, and also to everyone who came along and joined in the fun.
- Errázuriz The Blend White 2012, Aconcagua
- Morandé Edición Limitada Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Casablanca
- De Martino Viejas Tinajas Moscatel 2012, Itata
- Ventisquero Grey Reserva Pinot Noir 2011, Leyda
- Miguel Torres Reserva del Pueblo País 2012, Secano Interior
- De Martino Limávida 2010, Maule
- Tara Red Wine 2 2012, Atacama
- Torres Nectaria Botrytis Riesling 2009, Curicó